Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Shane goes off... to France, metaphorically


G’day again, petals.
Who says research was fun?   
Well, I will.
  
Y’see, I always thought of Thomas a’ Becket as a rather short, swarthy, dark visaged ascetic….( Richard Burton in the film “Becket” with Peter o’ Toole as Henry II).
Not true, possums…turns out that Thomas  "….. was very tall and slim with dark hair, (got the the dark hair bit right …) finely chiselled features, an aquiline nose and rather effeminate tapering hands.
He was a good conversationalist, despite a slight stutter, and had great charm of manner.
Like Henry, he was a man of enormous energy and versatile talent whose chief pleasures were hunting, hawking and chess although unlike Henry, having taken a vow of chastity as a youthful deacon, he avoided encounters with women…. 
...was witty, generous, vain, ambitious... 
And thrived when chancellor “in throwing off the deacon” … loved extravagant clothes and living.….but took things to extremes, being wilful, obstinate, manipulative and uncompromising…
..a consummate actor able to play the martyr…. 

The perfect courtier”! 
 (Alison Weir, Eleanor of Aquitaine: Vintage)
I rather suspect Possums that his descendent now works in PR for a large commercial art gallery specialising in photography .   
And that rather than hawking, he and his coterie write anonymous critiques of the  baristas of Brunswick  St. for  the Melbourne Times!
I have also discovered that the present mayor of the little town of Montaillou, (Languedoc-Roussillon) is probably a descendant from the family of the priest who was burned as a Cathar heretic C 1320.  (Montaillou, The Promised Land of Error. Le Roy Ladurie: Braziller)
Hmmm…. Perhaps the Cathars’ were correct in their predestination theories…. which might also explain why Catholics like Tony Abbot, Christopher Pyne, and that excuse for an immigration spokesman for the Liarbils are soooo  un-christian in their sentiments and relentlessly bang-on about having the “will”, the  “Kill-Factor” “…always going for the jugular”..  It really seems that, what goes around, comes around.

I found the books, the reading ones, not the picture (arty) ones after looking at  maps and discovered in them something I think the French call “terroir”: a sense or taste of place, (something of which the muddy trail-bike bogans have absolutely no ken)  and which I think might be essential to begin feeling affinity with a “place” visited. Otherwise there’s no point in visiting, is there? 
The state I am trying to describe was expressed many years ago when as a callow art student our class had been assigned by Lou Kuppers, (the sculpture lecturer), a project of modelling in clay, in a day,  a small figurative sculpture “in-the-style-of”... from a variety of periods of art.

It was Classical Greece’s turn;  and I had spent many hours researching and reading about (Kitto: "The Greeks", was brilliant). 


After an absorbing few hours modelling, Kuppers went around the class, individually discussing with the students their interpretations of 6th BCE sculpture. 

Arriving at my stand he slowly turned the work around, around and around, and around once more finally looked at me and said,” You speak Greek!”

I know I will be just anotherbloodytourist but I hope that I will have opened up enough to absorb much of what France is and more importantly, why France is, through its past and present culture. 

It would only be polite.

And then there are the google maps and walks...brilliant stuff for the perfect Kath & Kel holiday, particularly if you enjoy being four metres tall!    

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